Some teams earn a No. 1 draft pick by playing badly. Some get their No. 1 by playing badly, er, sort of on purpose. Others get their No. 1 by getting really lucky.
The N.B.A. Draft Lottery is upon us. Some teams will earn a shot at the best young players in the country. Others will be left cursing the vagaries of chance.
What time is the Draft Lottery? Tuesday at 7:30 Eastern in Chicago.
Is it on TV? Yes, on ESPN and streaming here. You can also watch if you have the ESPN app on your Apple TV, Roku, Sling TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV.
Who’s in? The 14 teams that did not make the playoffs are normally eligible. But one of those teams, the Brooklyn Nets, traded its pick away to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Another, the Los Angeles Lakers, will send its pick to either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics.
How does it work? A random, weighted draw will be held to determine the top three draft picks. Picks 4 to 14 will then be allotted in reverse order of the teams’ records.
Who are the team representatives? Teams can send whoever they like to represent them at the lottery: a player, an executive, somebody’s relative. This year’s choices:
Four are players. De’Aaron Fox of the Kings, Jamal Murray of the Nuggets, Luke Kennard of the Pistons and Josh Jackson of the Suns.
Other teams will be represented by executives; the Clippers will be represented by special consultant (and Lakers legend) Jerry West.
The Hawks will be represented by Jami Gertz.
Jami Gertz? The star of ’80s movies like “The Lost Boys” and “Less Than Zero”? Yes, she is an owner of the Hawks and married to the principal owner, Tony Ressler.
Who has the best chance at the No. 1 pick? The Phoenix Suns, who at 21-61 had the league’s worst record. Their chance is 25 percent.
Who else has a good chance at No. 1? The next most likely teams are the Memphis Grizzlies (20 percent), the Dallas Mavericks (14 percent) and the Atlanta Hawks (14 percent).
Who does not have such a good chance? The Orlando Magic at 9 percent, the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings (5 percent), the Cavaliers (3 percent), the Knicks (2 percent) and the 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets (1 percent each).
What’s going on with that Lakers’ pick? Because of a trade with the Suns back in 2012 that brought them Steve Nash, the Lakers no longer have their No. 1 pick. The Suns eventually sent the pick to the Sixers, who used it as part of a trade with the Celtics last year. But many of the deals involved conditions. As a result of all these complex machinations, if the pick winds up in the 1 spot, or between 10 and 13, the 76ers will get it (a 97 percent chance). In the less likely event that it winds up at 2 or 3, the Celtics will get it. (It can’t land in any other positions; if the Lakers are not pulled for a top three lottery place, their record was strong enough that they will get a lower pick.)
What is the single most likely result? That the Nuggets wind up with the 14th pick. They have a 98.2 percent chance of doing so.
What about picks 15-30? Those are all set, starting with the playoff team with the worst record, the Wizards, at 15, and moving down pick by pick to the better teams
Isn’t the N.B.A. planning some changes to the lottery? Yes, but they don’t begin until next year. In short, the chance of getting a top pick will be spread out a little more, giving the worst team only a 14 percent chance of winning (down from 25) and giving stronger teams a bit more of a chance. The 14 non-playoff teams will remain the only ones in the lottery.
Is what I see on TV the actual lottery? Not really. What you see is more of a ceremonial unveiling of the draft order. The actual lottery is held just before in front of a handful of league, team and news media witnesses sequestered in another room. In 2015, The Times was there to witness the curious process.
Is it fixed? As with many big events, conspiracy theorists come out for the draft lottery. Most often, they claim the league fixes the draw to benefit teams in big markets. When the Knicks won the lottery in 1985, the suggestion was made that the envelope with their name was bent or even refrigerated to tip off then-Commissioner David Stern. There has never been any credible evidence that a draft lottery has indeed been fixed.
When and where is the actual draft? June 21 at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
Who will be picked? The top pick may come down to a choice between Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic, a swingman from Slovenia. Among the players who could follow are freshmen Jaren Jackson of Michigan St., Marvin Bagley of Duke, Michael Porter of Missouri, Trae Young of Oklahoma and Mohamed Bamba of Texas.
Any upperclassmen? Mikal Bridges of national champion Villanova, a junior, may go 7-9ish.